Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Celebrate Blog Day 2005

Blog Day 2005

august 31st, 2005

On this first Blog Day celebration, all bloggers are now displaying 5 new blogs that we heartily recommend to our readers.

Please visit these 5 blogs.

I think you'll probably find them worth adding to your Favorites Bookmarks list or your blogroll if you too are a blogger.

Then again, you may not share my tastes or enthusiasm.

Be it as it may, thanks for also, if you operate a blog, displaying YOUR own list of "5 new blogs you might want to explore" for your readers.

Let's join together to celebrate the wonders of the blogosphere...on Blog Day 2005.

Some Blog Definitions:

Blogs = first universal publishing system in history.

Blogs = fast, easy web content creation, updating, networking, and editing tool for non-geeks with no knowledge of HTML.

Blogs = free information hubs, to which you can contribute your own opinions or observations, to which you can add any textual content you want.

Blogs = two-way conversations between any two internet-connected people via the web.

Blogs = slow chat rooms.

Blogs = decentralized public micro/macro-casting of independent, uncensored, unedited, original content.

Blogs = multi-directional, multi-media enabled, digital communication platforms.

Blogs = the democratization of web content.

Blogs = "an email to the world" (Doc Searls).

Blogs = self-magnifying mouthpieces for activistic transformative process elucidation and proliferation.

Blogs are electro-telepathic conduits of mental revolution.


About Blog Day 2005

What is BlogDay?

BlogDay was initiated with the belief that bloggers should have one day which will be dedicated to know other bloggers, from other countries or areas of interests. In that day Bloggers will recommend about them to their Blog visitors.

Read my original post:

Blog Day 2005

What will happen on BlogDay?

In one long moment on August 31st, bloggers from all over the world will post a recommendation of 5 new Blogs...

...preferably, blogs different from their own culture, point of view and attitude.

On this day, blog surfers will find themselves leaping and discovering new, unknown Blogs, celebrating the discovery of new people and new bloggers.

Why do we need a BlogDay?

I am suggesting this kind of activity because in the last months I felt that the more blogs there are, the less time I’m spending on new web logs.

Because of the overload of information, I’m just visiting my favorite blog and therefore, I’m sure that I miss a lot of good blogs.

Who am I?

My name is Nir Ofir.

I'm the Editor in Chief of an Israeli Portal:

I consider my self as an innovation evangelistand and an entrapreneur. Experienced in initiating, founding and running "Userland" type of web based services.

I'm known for founding Israel's first commercial Weblog service and as the creator of the "BlogTV" service – Live Broadcasted web logs.

You can read more about me, the Israeli Blogging scene and BlogDay project in my blog.


Vaspers the Grate's

5 Recommended Blogs:

(1) Hello my name is Scott

(2) 10,000 Birds

(3) Edge Perspectives with John Hagel

(4) Lessig Blog

(5) Electronic Frontiers Foundation

[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate


Why I love flamers

Why I Love Flamers

No offense, but praise and compliments bore me. I prefer critique, questions, even hateful attacks. And don't get me wrong: I am not a masochist, victim, or chump.

So, if I'm no chump, victim, or masochist, why on earth do I like flamers, people who attack me in comments or emails?

Here's why...

Flame Attacks are Better
Than Compliments

(1) Constant praise makes us pampered, grandiosely delusional about our supposed "greatness", spoiled, comfortable, soft, weak, lazy, self-obsessed, and arrogant.

(2) Flaming critiques keep us on our toes, disciplined, tougher, thick-skinned, stoic, spartan, continually improving, alert, discontented, innovative, and humble.

(3) Hateful remarks make us introspective, contemplative, progressive, erudite, and more sympathetic toward others who are unfairly attacked.

(4) Hurtful comments make us laugh, improve our own sarcasm skills, and show how stupid and vulgar our attackers are.

(5) Negative publicity is much better than no publicity at all. The best way to kill a book, movie, music recording, or blog is to ignore it and say nothing about it.

Example of Flames
and My Responses


--EXAMPLE #1--

FLAME (at "Celebrate Blog Day 2005"):

At Wednesday, August 31, 2005 4:51:22 PM, Lacey said...

Oh good lord your blog sucks balls. The layout looks like a monkey threw poop all over the place.


At Wednesday, August 31, 2005 5:52:18 PM, Steven Streight said...

Lacey: thank you for the compliments. I actually did hire a monkey, your mother, to do the layout.

And what MSM (mainstream media) organization do you work for?

--EXAMPLE #2--

(at "Nametag expert blog inspires"):

Monday, August 29, 2005 1:23:50 PM Steven Streight said...

NOTE re deleted comment:

Someone calling himself "Alex Marlin" posted a comment that I considered, then deleted.

It had comment spam type message along the generic lines of "Nice blog. Just cruising the web, looking for high quality blogs. Good job."

Then he left a URL to his site.

Folks, this is classic comment spam, even if he did not mean it that way.

Comment Spam:

(1) short, flattering, generic message

(2) URL to unknown blog or web site, which may be dangerous, like a Trojan, virus, or spyware/adware attaching site.

Sorry, Alex, but if you're a web builder, you need to learn about netiquette and how not to appear to be Comment Spam in your comment posting.


At Wednesday, August 31, 2005 4:52:41 PM Laceysaid...

What kind of loser responds to comment spam? Good lord steven get a life.


At Wednesday, August 31, 2005 5:58:51 PM Steven Streight said...

Lacey: I'm sorry that, since you're probably 13 years old, male, and a fart joker and Harry Potter worshipper, you don't understand what I'm doing here in my blogology blogs.

I explain and "respond to" comment spam to help my readers to deal with it, to identify it, and to prevent and frustrate it.

If you do nothing, if you let it sit in your blog, or ignore it, or just delete it, without telling your readers what's up, then your blog or whatever you think you have, is not user friendly.

But thanks for showing your lack of concern for readers.


If you feel you must express your appreciation for something I've said or done, go ahead. But don't be surprised if I merely acknowledge the kindness, but move quickly on to other topics or issues.

I'm not saying: "don't be nice to me". That would be self-inflicted savagery, self-mutilation via manipulating others to do the damage.

What I am saying is: "don't think I will feel bad or threatened or hurt by negative comments."

I actually get happy when I see vile, horrible remarks on my blogs, which doesn't happen nearly enough. I get excited, I feel peaceful, and I have no wish to retaliate. But I may say something comical, as a snappy comeback.

If I am truly indifferent, apathetic, unconcerned about negative comments, then why do I often reply in a sarcastic counter-attack? Not because I'm angry, but to show my beloved blog readers how to fight back.

I love combat.

But I prefer to defend, and not launch offensives. Defending means I just wait for an attack, then defend my ideas against assaults. To launch an offensive, which I do once in a while, means going to a lot of trouble to research a topic and prepare a combative, confrontational presentation for persuasive transformation.

Too much work involved in offensive combat. I prefer defense. It's a lot easier, simpler, and funnier.

So keep those ugly accusations rolling in, Lacey, and whoever else thinks they're man or woman enough to rise up against me.

Good luck. You'll need it. I wrote "the book" on flame fighting and blogocombat.

Check my archives for "Blog Asbestos" or "How to Extinguish Online Flames" or whatever I called it. I don't care.

[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate


Sunday, August 28, 2005

Nametag expert blog inspires

Scott Ginsberg, the world's foremost expert on nametags, has an inspiring blog. And his blog is going to be at the top of a new sidebar list I'm developing called "Daily Must-Reads". You really ought to consider getting to know this blog, for it's entertaining content, valuable ideas, and excellant writing.

Imagine: people hating and attacking someone, just because he wears a nametag 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, everywhere he goes.

Imagine: taking a simple little thing like a nametag, and building a life philosophy around it.

Imagine: using an inexpensive nametag as a powerful marketing tool.

Behold the power of seemingly "insignificant" things.

Scott Ginsberg, "the nametag guy", publishes a blog, Hello my name is Scott, that I plan to visit more often, and more regularly.

He's similar to me, and the opposite of me, simultaneously. His marketing ideas are similar to mine, but he's nicer than me, and his posts are generally more positive than mine. My posts tend to be critical, complaining, and warning of negative developments and detrimental trends.

Some remarkable, witty, and informative posts:

* The origination of the handshake

* Are you different or unique?

* Does online social networking actually work?

* Not even the windy city can blow this nametag away

* 5 Exercises to Enhance Your Personal Expertise

* What the heck does "approachability" mean?

* American Foundation for the Blind evaluates blogging

Read astonishing tales of what happens when he wears his nametag in environments that are hostile to anyone who dares to be "different". Such as bars and nightclubs, or baseball games.

Highly recommended, greatly satisfying, clever and edifying, the blogosphere needs more blogs like Scott Ginsberg's. Thanks, Scott for enriching our lives and improving our business acumen.

Visit his blog today, and consider both blogrolling it, and posting something about what you liked or learned in one of his posts.

He is worthy of such attention, and I'm sure he'll appreciate the praise.

Scott also has two published books available:

(1) Hello, My Name is Scott: wearing nametags for a friendlier society

(2) The Power of Approachability

See his site for more details.

Also see my earlier post, Scott Ginsberg: Nametag as Marketing Strategy, which contains a full text by Scott, in which he explains his innovative Nametag Philosophy:

[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate


Saturday, August 27, 2005

Micro Persuasion on Flat Blogosphere

Steve Rubel, in his recently re-designed blog, Micro Persuasion, has an interesting post:

"The blogosphere is flat"

In this post, Rubel discusses how the blog authors used to be mainly "geeks" or computer technicians and internet pros. This has gradually changed and now there are far more blogs on movies, celebrities, automobiles, and other non-computer topics. He even mentions that Hillary Clinton blogs, which I was not aware of.

He says that the "A List" blogs will continue to be valued by their hardcore fans, but each segment of the blogosphere will have its own top tier, super high traffic blogs. The geeky "A List" blogs (EvHead, Boing Boing, PhotoMatt, etc.) will be overtaken by blogs on less technical issues.

Rubel seems to think this, what he calls the "flattening" of the blogosphere, is a good thing.

However, I think this popularization is largely a "dumbing down" and a "trivialization" of the blogosphere.

My comment that I posted there today:


Each blogger has their own "A List".
It's called a blogroll.

Or "Daily Reads" for the cream of the crop of blogs rolled.

However the bloating of the blogosphere is not necessarily a good thing.

Seth Godin has pointed out that as mundane trivia, personal drivel, link farm, ghosted, and pseudo blogs increase, the overall value of the blogosphere decreases.

It's perhaps similar to FM radio.

At first, it was the domain of underground, college, classical music, album tracks, and other high value, non-top 40 radio.

But eventually, FM radio became loaded with most of the repetitious boring garbage that was on the AM dial.

Free television has become cluttered with commercials, infomercials, dope operas, etc.

Mailboxes stuffed with junk mail.

Telephone lines clogged with unwanted telemarketing.

Email besieged with spam.

...and so it goes.

I, for one, do not relish the growing popularity of blogs. While I champion the rising of individual voice, of the masses having their say, instead of MSM and governments, still, the blogosphere is being diluted and polluted.

That's sad, but inevitable I suppose.


So, how do you see it?

Is the "flattening" of the blogosphere, the "de-geekifying", a good thing?

Or do you think this is the "trivialization" of a formerly highly relevant sphere of info?

Let me know your opinion by posting a comment.


[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate


Friday, August 26, 2005

The Private Path

The Private Path

Friends and fans, allies and supporters, Vaspers the Grate, the author of the blog of the same name and Blog Core Values, and other blogs, is not in a good mood today.

I'm angry.

Sometimes, the very people that you are trying to protect will rise up against you.

[some content deleted]

My life is very complex and bizarre right now.

[some content deleted]

Try this little experiment.

Decide that you will take a bold and brave stand for Truth, Justice, Innovation, Goodness, and Infinite Creativity.

Decide that you will consider as enemies every manifestation of Lies, Unfairness, Mediocrity, and Imitation.

Then watch what happens.

You will be hated, attacked, and shunned.

I guarantee this.

What causes the average person to rise up against these disgusting enemies?

By being screwed too many times by religion, politics, education, family, government, companies, social groups, neighbors, the opposite sex...whatever.

[some content deleted]

I really do trust and believe in Truth, Justice, Innovation, Goodness, and Infinite Creativity.

[some content deleted]

Please forge your own path in life.

A very Private Path.

Do not trust bosses, family members, government, politicians, gurus, friends, pastors, priests, media, or even your own random thought processes that you mistakenly designate as "self".

Question, question, question...everything.

Most institutions and individuals are lying manipulators. If you think I'm being excessively cynical, just wait and see. You'll eventually discover that I'm correct.

Travel a Private Path.

Use your own mind to discover truth and goodness.

Visit blogs and complain, post harsh but sincere comments. Do not swallow everything that a blog or authority figure tries to ram down your throat. Critique my blogs, your parents, your government, your family, everything. Always. Be relentlessly skeptical.

I'm saying this in total compassion and concern for YOU.

Churches, temples, corporations, governments, universities, political parties, media...most are full of lying bastards.

Trust only your inner guidance, your experience, your gut feeling, but question that also, because...

...nothing human is infallible.

[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate


Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Mark Cuban vs. Donald Trump

Mark Cuban vs. Donald Trump

Let's look at what Mark Cuban said about Donald Trump, in Cuban's Blog Maverick blog.

from "Thank You, Donald"
by Mark Cuban

[QUOTE--deleted text indicated by "snip"]

I like Donald Trump. When The Benefactor was announced, he was one of the first people to call. Told me he thought it was a great idea, and I was the right guy to pull it off.

Thanks, Donald. Very nice thing to do. What wasn’t nice, was to call The Benefactor a copycat of The Apprentice.

A Trump quote from the Chicago Sun-Times in reference to The Benefactor:

”Because of the success of ‘The Apprentice,’ you’ll have 100 people trying to do shows a little bit like us, but we have a very unique show and I have a very unique guy in [Burnett],” he said. “I’ll tell you something, it’s not going to be easy to duplicate what we’ve done as a team.”

Let’s get some things cleared up in case anyone is confused. The Benefactor is going to be nothing like The Apprentice. Why? Because, Donald, we are not alike in any way. The funny thing is, in some respects, I have you to thank for that.

Back in Jan of 1999, I went to a SuperBowl party at Mar-a-Lago. I was there with some friends who had brought me along. I happened to bump into one of the founders of Yahoo by your pool and was talking to him when you walked up. It was just your typical, short meet-and-greet, but what you said left a lasting impession.

You told us that “someday, maybe we could sit up there with the rich people” as you looked up to a 2nd floor patio that had a smattering of people eating their dinner. Someday, Donald.

I don’t quite remember all the details, but not long after I got a note from you asking to come meet in New York. Sure, I thought. Why not?

We had a good meeting...


....your office. It was covered, literally, every inch of every wall, with pictures and magazine covers of you.

I have been in a lot of offices. I have seen pictures with the president, with family, with various famous people, but the over/under was usually 5 pictures, not 100. At that point in my life I was very well off financially, but I had a lot more paper money from stock in my net worth than cash. Our encounters proved to be a reality check for me.

After leaving your office, I promised myself that if I ever got liquid and had an obscene amount of money in the bank, I would make a point not to remind myself and everyone else around me of it every minute of every day — unlike you.

I guess our definition of success is just completely different.


I don’t have an entourage, I have friends. You talk about how much you are getting paid per episode, I talk about the fact I’m not. You need to make more, I have enough. But those are little things.

Where we are 180 degrees different is how we deal with business partners. You talk about how your problem casinos are just 1 pct of your net worth. I would feel like shit if I had a failing business with partners that were going to lose money and would talk about what it meant to my partners net worth, not my own.

Heck, I won’t even let friends invest in any of my companies until I’m certain they will make it. How in the world can you pay yourself while shareholders take a beating?

I like your show. It was entertaining and brought out your personality and approach to the world.

So will mine, and I can assure you they are nothing alike. If I wanted to do a show like yours, I would have met with Mark Burnett when he wanted to talk about taking your place after next season.

For a lot of reasons, I didn’t want to write this blog entry. In some ways it’s not fair to you to just lay into you like this. But the point of my blog is to try to tell the story behind the story that is in the paper.

You could have said that you didn’t know much about our show and left it at that. You suggested our show was a duplicate of yours. It’s not. It won’t be. I wanted to make that perfectly clear.


If Mark Cuban is being completely truthful and honest, and I have no reason to think he's not, this is an example of how greed and arrogance can make a person ugly on the inside. Business acumen, a real estate empire, sharp negotiating skills, and towers with ones name on them cannot make up for the fact we all die like a dog, someday.

Greed and arrogance, a blatant disregard for business partners, and a superior attitude toward the poor--these are not the ingredients for a successful life.

I like the saying that "rich people spend money extravagantly because they're not happy".

Spending money, making money, saving money, and investing money all add up to one big fat zero when a person is on their death bed. You can't take it with you, and you can't even do much with it here in this life. Tranquility, happiness, contentment, love, integrity, a good reputation--none of these can be purchased or rented.

When a person who's arrogant and selfish starts blogging, you won't see me leaping for joy. I don't care how successful, famous, or admired they seem to be.

Am I being harsh, too critical toward Donald Trump?

When he said, "the best way to help the poor is to not become poor yourself", that was enough for me to hear. This policy helps you, but does nothing for the poor, the disadvantaged, the downtrodden. Anyone who could state something so heartless and self-centered is a person who will surely come to regrets and shame.

It's like saying "the best way to help the Tsunami victims is to not become a Tsunami victim yourself".

Let's not be too quick to applaud the rich and famous, celebrities and stars, for blogging.

In many cases, I'd prefer they not pollute the blogosphere with their superior attitudes, their boastings about materialistic trinkets, and their craving to be worshipped and praised by their "inferiors".

[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate

- = +

less is more

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Blogger word verification stops spambots

Blogger word verification stops spambots

[NOTE: This is an identical post to "Blogger fights comment spam" at Vaspers the Grate.]

I've been a fiercely aggressive enemy of spam: email, trackback, guestbook, RSS feed, and blog comment spam.

To fight this foe, I have posted many articles exposing them, and unveiling the tactics spammers use.

I visit other business and marketing blogs, and when I've seen comment spam, I've demanded, via comments and emails to the blog authors, that they immediately delete it. I've raised a hundred kinds of hell with other bloggers for being lazy, inept, or ignorant about comment spam.

I've fully explained the many issues, preventive measures, and hazards of blog comment spam. I've described what it generally looks like and why a blog visitor should NEVER click on any links displayed in spam comments.

Fortunately, my blogs have only rarely, and for short periods of time, been targeted by spammers. Once, I turned off comments on all my blogs, for a month or two. I hated doing this, but I was spending too much time deleting the spam comments.

My Current Battle
Against Comment Spam

Right now, my blogs are under attack again by comment spammers, apparently more than one, judging by the types of spam.

Since this Vaspers the Grate blog is a "blogology and web usability" blog, it's even more critical for me to monitor and combat comment spam. I have to set a good example for other bloggers.

This time, I'm not turning off comments. Instead, I'm diligently monitoring my blogs, via Comment Notifications at my Gmail inbox.

Every time any comment appears on my blogs, an email notification is sent to my Gmail inbox. I can instantly tell if a comment is legitimate, or irrelevant, detrimental comment spam. All I have to do to go right to the spam comment is click on the blog title link at the bottom of the email notification.

I check my Gmail inbox periodically every day, and more so now that comment spam has been showing up in my blogs.

Blogger's New
Anti-Spam Tool

Now Blogger has introduced another Anti-Comment Spam tool: "word verification" (or "captcha").

You've probably seen this at various blogs. Dave Taylor uses it, for example, at his Intuitive Life Business Blog. Before you publish your comment, you have to visually recognize and type in a word or number appearing in a box. The box usually has a background that slightly obscures the letters or numbers, and the letters and numbers may be warped slightly.

A "word verification" or "captcha" device is designed to block automated programs ("spambots") that prowl around the blogosphere, seeking blogs to deposit comment spam in. Theoretically, only sighted human beings will be able to read and type in the contents of the verification box.

Blogger also uses this verification device in the final stage of Blog Creation, thus preventing "blogbots", automated blog creation programs, from creating multiple blogs as "link farms" that exist exclusively to drive traffic to other sites.

Suggested Comment Settings
for Blogger/Blog*Spot Blogs

Go to Dashboard.

Then your blog name [e.g., Vaspers the Grate].

Then Settings.

Then Comments.

Once at settings for comments, what I suggest you configure is displayed in dark red type.


Comments: Show

Who can comment?: Anyone

Default for posts: New Posts Have Comments

Comments Timestamp Format:
Tuesday August 23, 2005 8:53:35 AM

Show comments in a popup window?: No

Show word verification for comments?: Yes

Show profile image on comments?: Yes

Comment notification address (we email you at this address when someone leaves a comment on your blog): [type in the email address you want to use for this notification]

Save Settings: [click-select this]

Republish: [click-select this]

Republish Entire Blog: [click-select this]

Your blog published successfully.
View Blog: [click-select this]

You're done. That was easy, wasn't it? Do this for all your blogs. Then you can relax a little, with a bit less to worry about.

You have now implemented two powerful tools to help combat, or prevent, comment spammers from using your blog as a free bulletin board to post their crap on.

Links in comment spam go to porn sites, con artist product sales sites, or sites that will attach such malware as viruses, Trojans, or spyware on your computer or network. Comment spam is also an attempt to boost site ranking in link popularity lists or in search engine results.

NOTE: You may still get comment spam on your blogs, if a human spammer hand codes it in the comment form. The "word verification" only prevents automated programs from posting spam on your blog.

Remember these two tools to fight comment spam:

(1) "Show word verification for comments"

(2) "Comment notification address"

If you unfortunately do need to turn off comments on your blog for a period of time, simply go to "Who can comment?" and click-select "No one may post comments on this blog" or however it's worded.

You may also turn off comments on individual posts by click-selecting, at the bottom of the post entry form, right below "For keyboard shortcuts..." and just above "Save as Draft"/ "Publish Post":

Allow New Comments on This Post: No

Email me or Post a Comment
if you have any further questions...

...or any other suggestions or
insights to share.

[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate


I cannot edit posts on this blog.

NOTICE: I have some revisions I've been trying to make to my post "Donald Trump vs. email" here at Blog Core Values. I need to clarify a few things, embed URLs in The Trump Blog text, and cite the post at The Trump Blog from which I derived the quote displayed in "Donald Trump vs. email".

I'll do it here instead:

The Trump Blog

Quote from "Trump University: We Teach Success"
by Donald J. Trump 5/27/2005

Every time I make changes to the "Donald Trump vs. email" post, and click on Publish Post, I get the message "Blog not found."

Thus, I cannot edit that post.

If anyone has any suggestions on what the problem could be, and what can be done about it, I'll appreciate it.


[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate


Sunday, August 21, 2005

Donald Trump vs. email

Donald Trump vs. email

What does Donald Trump think about email? blogs? web sites? computers?

Would you like to see Donald Trump debate Bill Gates?

I would.

For now, here's what I dug up on Donald Trump and email. I must thank Karen Ruby for tipping me off about Donald Trump's blog, which has been up since May 2005. Have any marketing bloggers even noticed that he has a blog?

I don't understand how anyone can "have no use for e-mail", but then again, I have no use for texting or IM or podcasts.


It's a known fact that I'm no technophile.

I'm on record as a being someone who has no use for e-mail.

That's just because it doesn't fit my personal style.

Regardless of my own relationship (or non-relationship) with computers, I'm well aware of how pervasive technology has become, and how it's a driving force in every aspect of business today.

It's certainly a big part of The Trump Organization, and I'm fortunate that I'm able to hire the most highly skilled technical people available to do what needs to be done.


Comment Posting Problem
at The Trump Blog

Apparently, Donald Trump has not hired the sharpest knives in the drawer. When I tried to post a comment under a post about gas and oil prices, here's the message I received:

ADODB.Field error
Either BOF or EOF is true, or the current record has been deleted. Requested operation requires a current record.


The Trump Blog is using a captcha visual recognition device to prevent automated spam comments. But I know that I entered the correct information in the captcha entry box.

This is not good. When I have a comment rejected at a blog, due to a malfunction of a comment field, I generally never return to that blog.

[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate


Saturday, August 20, 2005

Business blog consulting a con job?

Is business blog consulting a con job?

Washington Post staff writer Robert MacMillan seems to think so.

While I've always considered "blog conferences" to be more about flirting, smirking, and not working, MacMillan sees them as more sinister. He apparently considers them to be symposiums of con artists.

MacMillan may not understand business or blogs or consulting.

Anyone who says that the way to succeed is to study successes and copy them, well, let me just say that this is a feeble, mediocre, and ineffective method. There are certain fundamental principles that a new practitioner needs to master, principles that may not be obvious, principles that may require more than just a cursory familiarity with superficial aspects.

There are many complex aspects and controversial issues in blogging, and especially business blogging.

Nevertheless, I had to laugh when I read this article, "Blog Oil Salesmen", which is a subheaded subtext within the larger entry entitled "Again with Phishing". I think Paul Woodhouse, of The Tinbasher blog, would really appreciate this sarcasm.


Blog-Oil Salesmen

You know those guys on TV who promise instant riches if you drop $19.95 to buy the book with all the secrets that "they" don't want you to know? You, sucker, are their secret.

Something similar is happening among bloggers, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

It seems that some of them are scoring big by promising to sell corporations all the knowledge they need in order to harness the power of blogs.

The story followed 21-year-old Matt Mullenweg as he "navigated the hallways of San Francisco's Palace Hotel, giving select corporate and other confidants a sneak peak [sic] at his latest offering: a special blogging software tool for companies.

"Mullenweg is just one of the stars of the Blog Business Summit being held in San Francisco through today. Public relations representatives of companies from Hewlett-Packard to Wells Fargo are here to meet Mullenweg and other blogging bigwigs to get tips on how to communicate with bloggers, and how best to get the word out about their products--on their own blogs.

...Bloggers have a swagger to their stride these days. Just a few years ago, Mullenweg, of Texas, thought he was going to be a musician, but a fascination with computers sidetracked him. He soon found himself the lead developer of a fast-growing blogging software, called WordPress. He has since moved to San Francisco. Today is his big day. He's showing off the corporate version of his software, called, for the first time. It will allow companies to host the software on their own or WordPress servers--giving employees the freedom to blog."

It's pathetic--as well as amusing--to watch representatives of multimillion-dollar corporations shell out their hard-earned cash to buy what amounts to bottles of freshly packaged air.

The concepts behind blogging are not difficult to understand, nor is it difficult to throw one onto the Internet.

I'd be ashamed to charge for my services so I'll offer them for free.

Want a blog? Go read some. Do what they do. There's your Blog Business Summit.


I must defend Matt Mullenweg, of Photo Matt blog.

Not that he needs my defense, but he was the first top tier blogger to reply to my Blog Pro Survey earlier this year.

And I know that he has tremendously valuable blog wisdom to impart. Just what he knows about the blog software and technology is impressive. Then add to that his insights into blogging culture, attracting blog readership, and networking within the blogosphere.

Anyway, I continue to wonder why business and blogging don't mix well. Are the 9 Core Values of blogging just totally alien to modern corporate culture? Do businesses not value the input of customers?

Are companies uncomfortable with stooping to conquer? Do they not want to be transparent, honest, receptive, candid, genuine, relaxed, and openminded? Do they fear flames and abusive comments? Tough questions? Complaints?

Again, allow me to predict: only a tiny percentage of businesses will have real blogs, with comments enabled. The problem with business blogging is not the blog. The problem is business as it's currently conducted in America.

[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate


Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Is Business Week hostile to FREE?

Is Business Week hostile to FREE?

It sure seems that way.

Friends, this is their second assault on Blogger and Google. And it's neither accurate nor fair.

See my response to their first attack at:

"Harsh Comments and Black Holes"

Here, quoted, with a little deleted, below, is the latest post at Business Week's blog called Blogspotting.

Please notice the title of the post. A good deconstructionist observes the fact that the article is not titled "Some blog hosts may be excluded from search engine results" but is rather titled "The downside of free blog service" as though it were the FREE aspect that is a problem.

The FREE aspect of Blogger/Blogspot blogs is not the problem.

The real problem is the fact that blogbots, automated programs designed to create blogs, are taking advantage of free and easy blogging software. These blogbots create Blogger blogs as tools to link to other sites, thus boosting the link popularity and search engine rankings of the target sites.

In other words, the automated blog creation programs, launched by spammers, are exploiting Blogger's free and simple blog software.

But Blogger now uses a captcha (visual alphanumerical pattern recognition device to distinguish humans from automated programs) in the final stage of blog creation. This, as far as I know, is an effective way to block the blogbots.

So why attack Blogger and try to divert people from using their software? This seems a bit suspicious to me.

Let's look deconstructively at Stephen Baker's post attacking Blogger...again.


August 16, 2005

The downside of free blog service

by Stephen Baker

Back when the spam epidemic was triggering alarms, e-mails from Hotmail accounts risked getting ensnared in filters. Now, with spambloggers using the free blogs at Google's Blogger, the blogspot address raises suspicions.

Mark Cuban, says:

If you are an individual blogger whose blog is hosted on, every day the chances of you being excluded from’s, and other search engines’ indexes increases.

If that weren't enough, Feedster's Scott Rafer writes that bloggers without their own domains or subdomain are excluded from the Feedster rankings.

The one exception is PostSecret, at # 10.



My comment that I just posted a few minutes ago, and which I forgot to copy into my browser edit function (forgetting my own advice to my readers...ooops. Now you know for sure that I'm not quite perfect yet)...

...was along the lines of this:

"This is assuming that search engines drive high value traffic to blogs, and that search engines are free from bias and have high credibility."

I was experimenting, to see if I was still blacklisted into a "DNS Black Hole" as on previous comment attempts.

Apparently, my comment bypassed any "spam filters" and I made it to the "Your comment posting is being delayed for moderation to prevent spam" message.

I think they'll post my comment, since it's a lot milder than my standard fare.

NOTE: The first Blogspotting attack was on Blogger's vulnerability to blogbots that create spam or link farm blogs. Attack #2 is on Blogger blogs not getting listed in some search engine results.


Almost all my blogs are FREE Blogger/Blogspot blogs from Google. Google also provides me with FREE Hello/Picasa image upload software, and a FREE Gmail account. Thus, I am an UNPAID rabid attack dog for Google and Blogger and Evan Williams. I engage in ruthless blogocombat with anyone who even looks at them in a manner that offends me.

[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate


Sunday, August 14, 2005

NEW BlogPulse Profiles

NEW BlogPulse Profiles

It's late, or actually, early Sunday morning, 4:25 AM and I have to go to bed and get up again at 9 AM.

Now listen--I don't even have time go into any lengthy description or analysis of this new and amazing blogospheric service. But I fired off an email to BlogPulse, raved (unpaid) about their Profile service, and mentioned that I was going to post something about it. So here I am, keeping my word.

BlogPulse has just launched a Beta version of a blog/blogger tracking function with multiple options, charts, etc. You can learn a lot about your own blog, or blogs of others, with this cool new service.

Here's what they say at the site:


Blogger Profiles allows users to find more information about a specific blog or blogger—who authors it, how active the blog is, how it ranks in comparison with other blogs, what it's about, etc.

Many people have questions about who bloggers are and how much influence they wield.

BlogPulse Profiles provide basis metrics and analysis to begin to answer those questions.


Go check it out, run your own blogs through it, or blogs you're curious about, and see what happens. Look at all the different aspects you can track or chart. How cool is this? Very cool, that's how.

I'll probably post more about this Profile service later today or tomorrow. G'night all.

[signed sleepily] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate

Friday, August 12, 2005

Where do blog guidelines come from?

Where do blog guidelines come from?

My long-time readers know that I've covered this repeatedly. But for new readers, and those who still don't fully grasp where best practices and guiding principles originate, here's yet another explanation.

Let's get super-primitive, and start with some basic concepts.

Why Principles for
Anything At All?

(1) Everything in life has guiding principles.

(2) Nothing in life can be done haphazardly, chaotically, sloppily, in total anarchy.

It's either impossible to do it for any length of time without disastrous results, or it's not allowed by laws and peer pressure, or it's distasteful and repulsive to others.

(3) Individual feelings and impulses must be understood, and sometimes must be controlled, stopped, or modified, with self-discipline.

Parents know this to be true. The pampered, uncontrolled and uncontrollable person is no fun to be around, and tends to be selfish, prone to violent or loud outbursts, and not physically fit or healthy.

The ancients called this "stoicism", "nirvana", "extinguishing wanton craving", "inner awareness", and "maturity".

(4) When it comes to technology, it's not so much "right" vs. "wrong". It's more "effective" vs. "counter-productive". Or "works well" vs. "backfires".

(5) Most technology products come with instruction manuals, online help, or suggestions for optimum usage and best results.

(6) "Best practices" and "general guidelines" are not invented arbitrarily in order to mess with your mind and make you upset.

These fundamental rules or basic principles are based on the intrinsic nature of the technology, the features built in, the purpose they were designed to fulfill, observations of typical users attempting to complete tasks, and lessons learned from other, relevant technologies.

For example, lessons learned in memo writing may apply to email composition, and then also to blog postings. Not necessarily, but possibly.

(7) We may all experiment with modifying or even defying and opposing any rules we want. But we also have to be prepared to suffer the consquences. Sometimes the overthrow of tradition results in very positive outcomes. Still, it's good to know the rules before you set about breaking them.

How Are Blogging Principles
Invented and Agreed Upon?

(1) Current pioneers and early blog innovators, such as Tim Berners-Lee, Jorn Barger, Joel Spolksy, Dave Winer, Amy Gahran, Doc Searls, Evan Williams, Rebecca Blood, and Robin Miller, discovered or invented good methods and established reliable standards.

(2) Web usability analysts and blogologists have studied users attempting to achieve various goals, find information, or perform a function, and have observed what helps and what hinders users.

(3) Trained or experienced blog users and blog creators discover their own guiding principles based on actual practice.

(4) Quality standards and effective methods from related fields, like software engineering, web design, information architecture, library science, literary criticism, philosophy, social science, anthropology, art, and psychology can often be imported to the realm of blogs and blogging.

(5) Blogologists who spend much time and effort visiting blogs, creating blogs, experimenting with blogs, and analyzing blogs--plus studying other blogologist's opinions and research--often come up with valuable and valid guidelines.

Do I Have to Obey
Blogological Methods?

No, you don't. No one will force you to do anything with a blog.

But why not take advantage of proven or intuitively logical principles that seem to work in most cases, most of the time?

Of course there are no prison terms or fines put on you if you choose to ignore or defy any blog guidelines.

And you can find blogs that violate many principles, yet are still popular and seemingly successful.

The reasons why these blogs have high traffic numbers and are praised by others may have nothing to do with the blog quality or value. There are many factors involved in the success of anything.

Can you not think of many films, music bands, political beliefs, religious institutions, recreational activities, television shows, or even drugs that are highly popular and are making tons of money, but you despise or find boring, dangerous, unethical, crazy, or immoral?

Blog guidelines as expressed by thought leaders, innovators, pioneers, creators, consultants, and ordinary bloggers who simply delight in pondering such things, these guidelines can be of great assistance to anyone who really wants to understand blogging...and waste no time with dubious practices, some of which may be illegal or socially unacceptable.

Stay tuned.

Plenty of principles are explained in my various blogs. Test them and decide if they have any value to you. Tell me of any that you've discovered that might help me.

We're all in this blogging experiment together, whether you read, comment, or create.

Here's to your success and happiness as a blogger or blog reader! Cheers!

[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate


Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Are blogs difficult to understand?

Are blogs difficult to understand?

I've seen so much confusion as to what a blog is, how it works, and what it can do for individuals or organizations. MSM journalists get it totally wrong or only partially correct, and often proclaim wildly distorted views about blogs and bloggers.

I've read material about blogs, written by computer and internet professionals, that was completely idiotic. Things like: "blogs are still mostly just teenagers journaling their emotional ups and downs or political fanatics spouting crazy ideas". I read a remark like this, which is a fairly exact paraphrase, in a comment on a respected business blog. And the ridiculous remark was not attacked or corrected.

Perhaps that's the problem. We hardcore bloggers are not aggressive enough in setting the record straight. We allow stupid comments and unbalanced news articles to sit there unchallenged.

I don't recall people acting so bewildered about chat rooms, email, web sites, online forums, discussion lists, online shopping, file sharing, CD burning, instant messaging, text messaging, or even podcasts.

Someone please help me understand why so many people, even experienced web users, act so clueless, so hopelessly confused, when it comes to blogs. Blogs are not rocket science, so what is the barrier to learning here?

Even if you patiently and fully explain blogs, even if you show a blog to somebody, a print out or a live blog on a computer screen, many people act like their brains were compromised and deleted by a mental virus.

The only solution I know of for this ignorance is to get the person to actually start a blog of their own.

Have you encountered this total lack of comprehension regarding blogs?

What do you think is causing this mental blankness?

Are you doing anything about it? On your blog?

Can you add sidebar features or blog posts that help remedy this situation?

[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate


Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Blog t-shirt

T-Shirt Humor now has a joke blog t-shirt available.


The BLOG Shirt

Note-- small text at the bottom of the design is: "She wanted to stop reading it- but she had nothing better to do! Produced by average people who seem to think their lives are interesting. Filmed in thrilling HTML-O-Scope with exciting new fonts!"



What Blogs Do

What blogs do
is a hotly debated topic.

Many MSM (mainstream media) journalists look at what blogs are currently doing, then using that as the complete definition of blogs and blogging.

This is a very unbalanced and short-sighted approach.

To say, "Here's what blogs do now, thus this is all a blog can do" is not fair, not insightful, and not prophetic. We expect our news sources to at least attempt to predict what direction a technology may be heading toward, so we can be prepared for the future.

But the poor old blog keeps getting partial or biased coverage. If you know a few things about blogs, you can't help but be annoyed at all the gross distortions. The assumptions, proclamations, descriptions, and projections are very skewed, usually in a cynical and condescending manner.

This is typical. When an enemy or an alternative arises, the incumbent first dismisses it as "no real threat". It's hard to look straight at a new technology that could mean the end, or a massive disruption, of your familiar territory.

To illustrate this, let's take a look at a recent Christian Science Monitor article dealing with blogs and journalism.

I'll use a deconstructionist methodology of extremely close reading, paying attention to the margins or seemingly peripheral remarks, and radically questioning implications residing/hiding in the text.

Watch how definitions, prescriptions, and predictions are bandied about, and see if you agree with what is stated. See if it matches your own experience and understanding.


Christian Science Monitor

(from the August 09, 2005 edition)

Journalism's fear and loathing of blogs

By Dante Chinni

WASHINGTON – Mainstream journalism is running scared. It's watching its audience numbers decline and its public trust numbers drop. Newspapers, magazines, and network television news have been shaken by major scandals. The media have seen the future and it is blogging.

Or at least that's the story this year.

[STREIGHT: Already the sarcasm enters in. Can you see the smirk on the face?]

"Mainstream journalism," however you want to define it, has been under siege so long it's hard to keep track of all the people, things, and outlets that were or are still going to destroy it.

[STREIGHT: This "however you want to define it" is no definition.

By obscuring the definition, by implying that it's difficult to define your own industry, you remove it from decisive attack.

"That's not what we are, thus I deflect your assault by conveniently slinking around in the murky shadows of imprecision."]

Blogs, or weblogs - websites on which a person or a group of people opines about events, reports what's been heard, or simply links to other sites (many of which are also blogs) - are the latest concern among journalists who look at them with curiosity and fear.

[STREIGHT: Yet another sloppy definition of the "weblog". Don't you get tired of all these flimsy, uncertain, poorly researched "definitions"?

Blogs are not all containing just "opines", "reports of what's been heard" (implying "rumor" or "gossip", thus unreliable "hear-say"), or "simply links to other sites".

Blogs may contain carefully researched facts, insights from thought leaders, statistics, scientific data, plus photos, art, video, audio, etc. If you've explored the blogosphere to any extent, you've most likely seen a huge variety of material contained in blogs.]

Many believe blogs are a dangerous direct competitor to mainstream journalism - a way for individuals and interest groups to reach around the gatekeeper function that newspapers, magazines, TV, and radio have traditionally held.

Some even see them as the future of journalism; an army of citizen journalists bringing the unfiltered news to a public hungry for the inside dope.

[STREIGHT: By making a modest or murky claim about your own turf, then making an exaggerated or extreme claim for the Other, you bias readers against the Other.

"That's ridiculous" is what you want your reader to think.

No blog, or any other journalistic medium, is "unfiltered".

My blogs are all filtered by my own personal experience and contemplations, like all other communication vehicles. No medium is "pure" or completely objective.]

"The latest, and perhaps gravest, challenge to the journalistic establishment is the blog," Richard Posner wrote last week in The New York Times Book Review.

Actually Mr. Posner wrote about a lot of challenges the media faced, but gave blogs a lot of space as he spelled out their advantages. They bring expertise. They bring flair and opinion. They bring more checks and balances than the mainstream media.

"It's as if the Associated Press or Reuters had millions of reporters, many of them experts, all working with no salary for free newspapers that carried no advertising," he explained.

Ah, yes, in the future news will be bountiful and free with no advertising. Can't beat that. If they throw in complimentary ice cream we've really got something here.

[STREIGHT: Here we have an unprofessional sarcasm, betraying the journalist's hostility toward what is being described. A serious and grave error for any reporter. It's deliberately included to confuse the issue, to poke fun at something that's perceived as a threat.]

Let me just say for the record, I have nothing against blogs. I actually like them.

[STREIGHT: Aha. Guilt sets in. Brilliant strategy (now I'm using some sarcasm): knock down your opponent, then offer your help in lifting the stricken enemy back up on his feet. I detect insincerity, a pitiful attempt to be disarming.]

Their formula of opinion, links, and reportage can be refreshing - though they are often short on the last part of that mix. And the voices they enter into the media dialogue sometimes offer perspectives that otherwise might never be heard.

But if you really look closely, all this "and in the future ..." talk seems a bit far-fetched for a number of reasons.

[STREIGHT: Call me stupid, but I have no idea what this journalist is talking about. The "formula of opinion, links, and reportage" is not a good definition of blog contents, and saying "often short on the last part" is another attack, removing "reportage" and leaving "opinion and links". This is attack, praise, attack, praise, attack. The old "say nice things about your enemy, not to create a favorable impression of the enemy, but to make yourself look good, diplomatic, fair.]

For all the bloggers' victories (like raising questions about memos in CBS's Bush/National Guard story) there are numerous failures (gossiping about John Kerry's affair that never happened or how the presidential election was rigged in Ohio).

And most bloggers simply don't have time or staff to, say, launch an investigation into the internal workings of the Department of State. Getting leaks and tips is one thing, digging for the fuller story is quite another.

[STREIGHT: Like the MSM is a trustworthy "digger" for "full stories." Ridiculous. The MSM is notorious for presenting the negative side of stories, for emphasizing failures, tragedies, and disasters, while ignoring progress, victories, and positive news. They consistently use fear, cynicism, and alarm to sell their journalistic products.]

But the main reason blogs can't really supplant the mainstream media is what they cover.

If you go looking for blogs about national politics, foreign affairs, celebrities or (yes) the media, you won't go wanting.

In fact, every one of the country's top 10 most visited blogs deals with one of these subjects, according to itself a "portal to the blogosphere."

[STREIGHT: I don't see how such highly popular blogs as Boing Boing and Evhead fit this description. More sloppy journalism from your friends in the MSM.]

That's not really that surprising. To be a serious blogger - one who can devote his time and energy to the job - one needs to make a name for himself, sell ad space, and get paid.

And to make a name, sell ad space, and get paid, one needs a national audience.

[STREIGHT: Once again, an assumption without any support. This is a futile attempt to force blogs to fit the mold of MSM journalism.

"We have a national audience. We sell ad space. We get paid. Blogs must also conform to these parameters."

No true blogger will swallow such nonsense. Most of us bloggers are not selling ad space, are not getting paid to blog, and don't care if we have a "national audience", are content with a specialized online community of fans.]

In other words, if you live in, say, Grand Rapids, Mich. and are looking for the latest developments on the construction on the nearby highway, or the city council budget, or a millage dispute - things that impact people in very real ways - you're not going to have much luck in the blogosphere.

[STREIGHT: Another error. Blogs are springing up that address all sorts of local issues and concerns. How much research did this MSM journalist do on the blogosphere? Here is an attempt to make blogs seem friviolous, trivial, not dealing with "things that impact people in very real ways", as though the exalted and most worshipful MSM is the only source of such material.]

Even large cities and state capitals, except for those that are part of the media/government industrial complex, are relatively blog free. And it's hard to see how that will change.

[STREIGHT: Well, if it's "hard to see", why don't you open your eyes? Or do you see only what you want to, or are paid to, see?]

The number of people interested in devoting their life to things like local zoning rules is a bit more limited than those interested in national politics. Getting paid to do it would probably be all but impossible. And that's a problem.

For all the fretting, blogging ultimately is bound to be less a replacement for the traditional media than a complement.

The fact is, journalism's most critical responsibilities in a democratic society - seeking, reporting, and analyzing news and holding people accountable - aren't easy to fulfill.

[STREIGHT: ...and are not done well by the MSM, either. Look at the growing lack of confidence in the MSM, its continuing loss of credibility.]

People rightly point out that the media often fail at those tasks. It's just hard to see how making it a volunteer position or a part-time job could improve the situation.

• Dante Chinni writes a twice-monthly political opinion column for the Monitor.



Saturday, August 06, 2005

You Blog for You

You blog for you.

If you're a hardcore, dedicated blogger, you don't allow yourself to be distracted by praise or condemnation.

You don't worry about how many comments you get.

You don't care about how many other bloggers blogroll you.

You aren't upset if no one cares about your blog.

You blog for you.

Even if you're a business blogger, hoping to attract clients, drive traffic to your ecommerce or company web site, or sell items right on your blog...

...still, ultimately, you blog for you.

Why do I say this? Because it's easy to start a blog, get some visitors via various methods, accumulate lots of comments at your blog, and have other bloggers raving about you...

...then suddenly, with no explanation, for unknown reasons, hit a slump.

One day you wake up, and everything's all different. Your loyal fans have disappeared. Other bloggers may be shunning or complaining about you on their blogs. The media is heralding other blogs as innovative or great, blogs you feel are vastly inferior to yours. You can't figure out what went wrong.

You puzzle over it. You read your last several posts. You wonder if you shifted in a direction that alienated your audience, a direction that the blogosphere is not headed toward.

You analyze every little
detail of your blog:

Should I change my design template?

Post shorter articles?

Quit using humor?

Stop displaying art and photos?

Post more comments at other blogs?

Try to be sweeter and less aggressive in my writing?

Add more practical value in my posts?

Include more hypertext links in my text?

Add more syndication options?

Check the functionality of my RSS feeds?

Make sure my blog is rendering properly in IE?

Maybe you should.

But maybe not.

Maybe the problem is with the others,
and not with you or your blog.

Remember this the next time you hit a slump:

People are fickle. They go from one hot thing to another hyped thing. Most folks are mediocre, unimaginative, and confused about many things.

If you're a unique, clever, wise, artistic, metaphysical, philosophical, ethical, innovative, contrarian, experimental, radical, intelligent, what a large number of strikes against you!

Most people drift or are driven toward the trivial, the vain, the hyped, what is: unwise, a quick thrill, easy reading, non-challenging, safe ideology, status quo, charming and familiar.

Whatever the case may be, a problem with you or a failing in others, still, ultimately, You Blog For You.

Keep blogging. Keep improving. Keep tweaking. Keep posting comments at other blogs.

Keep exploring and discovering new blogs and bloggers you feel are worthy of mentioning, blogrolling, and posting about.

For every fan you lose, for every enemy you make, go out there and acquire ten more to replace them. Even if you can't replace them, keep blogging the best you can.

You may be tired of hearing this, but it's worth repeating, I think:

Blogging's main effect is on the blogger.

Blogging is an effective way to improve your thinking, writing, computing, and networking skills.

So dear friends, fellow bloggers out there, whoever you may be, cheer up!

You Blog (Ultimately, Primarily, Essentially) For You.

If others benefit and compliment you, that's just icing on the cake.

[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate


Friday, August 05, 2005

Don't fret the flames!

How to have a Thought Leader blog

Is your blog a
Thought Leader blog?

Do you know how a Thought Leader blog differs from Link Logs, Clinking Blogs, and Rotation Blogs?

Link Log = blog that lists valuable URLs, with minimal or no commentary.

Clinking Blog = blog that links only to bloggers in a little clique, a circle of friends or industry blogs. Clique + linking = "clinking".

Rotation/Recycle Blog = blog that merely posts articles about what other similar blogs are posting about.

For example, if Seth Godin or Tom Peters blogs about Windows Vista, your blog does the same, usually linking to their blog post.

Thus, a post or topic is "rotated" or "recycled" around the blogosphere.

Michael Martine
Blog Consulting and Theme Design
for Specialty Markets

writes some incredibly valuable posts.

Here's an excerpt from his recent essay

"How to be a thought leader and own your niche"

I'm just giving you some choice quotes, so be sure to visit his blog and read the entire essay. It's well-written and chock full of good information and personal insight, based on his own experience. This is practical, not just wild theory.


If you’re link blogging instead of creating original material, you’re not a thought leader in your space.

The more into your niche you get, the more important (and easier) it is for you to write original material. Focus on your niche. Burrow into it. Be as specific as you can within it.

Not just consulting, but IT infrastructure change-management consulting. Not just web design, but content management systems for real estate agencies. Not just farming, but organic heirloom tomatoes for gourmet restaurants.

If you’re thinking that your business isn’t that specific in the first place, well, I was expecting that.

Most of us don’t specialize enough for fear of narrowing down our customer base too much. We fear we’ll miss out on “all that business”. And yet, if everyone is generalized, nobody stands out. You have to excel at something specific.


I present myself as an example: the more specialized I get, the more traffic my blog gets, the more comments and emails I get, and the more business I get.

Most importantly, the business I get is the kind of business I really want.

I started out as a web designer. Great. There are fifty-million or so web designers. Then I got more specific: I became a blog designer. That’s better, but today’s blog designer is yesterday’s web designer.

Now, I’m a blog consultant and WordPress Theme designer for specialty markets.


A generalist is practically forced to take on work he or she doesn’t really want to do, because it’s difficult to compete with all the other generalists out there making the same mistake and turning everything into a slim margin price war.

And all the other generalist blogs are posting about the same thing as everybody else.

The thought leaders at the top of the blog food chain are posting original material.

Everybody else is just linking to them and adding their own meager observations (coattail blogging).

When I see blogs like that, I can’t hit the back button fast enough. When you occupy a specific niche to the point where there are very few others to link to, you’re in a position to be a thought leader. Others will now link to you.


To paraphrase Tom Peters quoting Jerry Garica, you don’t want to just be the best at what you do—you want to be the only one doing what you do.

Determining your niche and staking your claim to it will enable you to blog with originality and authority. It will allow you to become a thought-leader in your field, driving traffic and business your way.

Of course, nothing is that simple!

The most successful people do not follow formulas!

Following a formula automatically makes you an also-ran, a me-too. Finding your niche should be a process of imagination, innovation, discovery, and bravery. Finding your niche is scarily a lot like asking, “What do you really want to do?”


I strongly advise you to blogroll, or bookmark as a favorite, Michael Martine. This man knows what time it is, and that is so refreshing, what with all the big bloggers pooping out and taking "breaks" or having nervous breakdowns lately.

[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate


Tuesday, August 02, 2005

the three realms of spirit Posted by Picasa




Monday, August 01, 2005

writerly blogs

writerly blogs

An obvious fact that bears repeating:

the writer has a distinct advantage in a blog.

What is blogging exactly?

Effective blogging includes:

(1) specialized writing skills

(2) web design and HTML/CSS skills

(3) unique personality

(4) original ideas

(5) conversational voice

(6) controversial topics

(7) beneficial information

(8) relevant content

(9) focus

(10) purpose

(11) dedication

(12) continual improvement

Specialized Writing Skills
and Writerly Blogs

Blogs are judged primarily by the writing quality.

All the other factors play huge roles in the perception and value of a blog, but in content blogs (i.e., not link logs that primarily list URLs with slight descriptions) it all boils down, in the final analysis, to the writing.

If the blogger is a poor writer, chances are, the blog will not be enjoyable to read. There are many well-written blogs in existence. No one needs to waste any time with poorly written blogs.

One of the problems with many business blogs is that they sound too stiff, impersonal, and fluffy. People are seeking user-friendly, personalized, interactive services. A business blog is a service mechanism, specializing in customer satisfaction: providing the intended audience with relevant material and desired functionalities.

One of the problems with many personal blogs is that they sound too emotional, private, and mundane. People are seeking focused entertainment, information, and community. A personal blog is a service mechanism, specializing in intimacy and unique personality: providing the fan base with private thoughts and personal observations.

A personalized business blog would stand out from the pack.

An intimate, candid, two-way conversational blog for business purposes would be ideal.

Customers have sickened of listening to and obeying robot recordings and selecting from pre-set menus.

They want to connect with a real human person at your company.

The writing style, therefore, has to be the opposite of corporate brochure-speak: non-corporate, casual, un-business-like.

What do corporate brochures
rarely contain?

* humor

* questions to the reader

* admission of faults and weak spots

* complete contact information

* natural speaking style

* intimate atmosphere

* friendly tone of voice

* understatement

* self-effacement

* self-parody

* cynical attitude

* humble posture

* hesitant approach

* references to external sources

* praise for competitors, rivals, opponents

* side-by-side comparisons

* philosophical depth

* strong expression of contrarian opinion

* abstract art as window-dressing


I'm sure you can think of many more qualities of natural human communication that are NOT to be found in corporate fluff writing. Not all the anti-corporate qualities are worthy of using in a blog. But most are.

Deliberately writing in a clearly non-corporate style will signal to readers that it's not "business as usual", not altogether boring and hyped-up.

Blog Priority: writing style

The most important aspect of any blog is the writing style, an appropriate style for the intended audience.

The best text content blogs (i.e., not photo/audio blogs or link logs) are writerly, whether the blogger is conscious of it or not.

Keep improving your writing skills, read classic literature, visit popular, well-written, unique blogs.

If your writing is improving, it doesn't matter how many visitors, comments, or RSS subscribers you get.

Be true to your own vision. As long as you're satisfied with your blog, that's really all that matters. It's not the readership of your blog, it's the writing of it that's vital.

While we must not neglect the blog design, and other aspects of blogging, the post writing's the main thing.

Master the art of blog post writing.

FREE lessons available in the Vaspers the Grate family of fine quality blogs and premium post archives.